The month of Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was sent down,
a guidance for the people, and clear verses of guidance and criterion.
[Quran: Chapter 2:183]

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Basic Facts on Ramadan

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The following are some basic FAQs on Ramadan that would be helpful to non-Muslims.

What does the word "Ramadan" mean?
Ramadan is the name of the ninth month of the Islamic calendar. The original meaning of the word was "scorching heat".

What is an Islamic calendar?
The Islamic calendar is a lunar calendar. This means that each month begins with the sighting of the new crescent moon. There are twelve months in the year. A lunar year is 354 days long. This is different from a solar calendar like the Gregorian calendar used in the West. The solar year lasts 365 days. Because the lunar year is shorter, each date on it falls about 10 or 11 days earlier, relative to the solar calendar, with each succeeding year.

Why do you say Ramadan is "predicted" to start on a certain date?
As I mentioned above, each month in the Islamic calendar starts with the sighting of the new crescent moon. Scientific calculations can pinpoint exactly when the astronomical new moon occurs, and can predict with some accuracy when the first crescent will be visible after this, but there are many factors that can complicate this, such as the weather. For this reason, and so that even ordinary Muslims who are not astronomers can take part, the rule is that the new crescent moon must be sighted by human observers. And we don't know exactly when it will appear until it's seen!

Does the month of Ramadan commemorate anything?
The month of Ramadan is when the first verses of the Quran were revealed. Note: The entire Quran was revealed over a period of about 23 years, starting in 610 CE and ending in 632 CE.

What is the purpose of the fast?
Quran Surah al-Baqarat verse 183 states that the purpose of the fast is to develop a quality called in Arabic "taqwa". Taqwa may be defined as, "Worshiping God as if you see Him because if you don't, He sees you." It is thus a kind of awe or God-fearingness, an awareness that God is always watching. Nobody but God and the person fasting know if that person actually observed the entire fast or secretly cheated. Thus, in order to resist the temptation to cheat, one has to remember that God is always watching and will see any lapse.

What does the fast entail?
The fast is from dawn to sunset each day of Ramadan. The fast involves refraining from food, drink, and (for married people) sexual relations during the daylight hours.

Who has to fast?
The fast is obligatory on all sexually mature adult Muslims. Those who are mentally handicapped or insane are not considered "adult" and do not have to fast. People who are ill do not have to fast if it would further damage their health; however, they should make up the missed fasts later when they become well again. Women who are pregnant or nursing are considered "ill" because fasting would harm their babies. As well, women who are having their menstrual period or who are experiencing post-partum bleeding should refrain from fasting during the days of their bleeding; the combination of blood loss and fasting could damage their health. Children who have not yet reached puberty are not required to fast. However, it is good for them to practice, and for this reason many Muslim children do fast starting from age seven or nine. A doctor should be consulted about how much fasting is safe for a growing child. People who are traveling may also break their fast if they feel that keeping it would harm them; as well, soldiers on guard duty for whom maximum readiness is a must may break their fast. In all cases of illness or fear of illness, the missed days need to be made up later.

Are there any other observances or customs attached to Ramadan?
The Muslim world has an almost staggering diversity of cultures and each Muslim country may have its own customs and rites associated with Ramadan.

Some customs that are observed by most Muslims include the following:
Recitation of the entire Quran, in imitation of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who did so. This is usually done for the community from the mosques or (in Muslim countries) on the radio; individuals or families may also get together for their own recitation.

Observance of special night vigil prayers in the late evening or middle of the night called tarawih.

Withdrawing to the mosque during the last ten nights of Ramadan for prayer and Quran recitation, which is called itikaf meaning "seclusion".

Celebration of the "Night of Power" marking the specific date of the beginning of the revelation of the Quran on the 27th of Ramadan.

As well, the fast is broken each evening with a meal called "iftar" (meaning "breaking the fast"), and the last meal in the morning before dawn is called "suhur" (meaning "morning meal").

In Muslim countries it is quite common to have feasts that last all night and run from iftar to suhur. These feasts are a time of celebration and community. There is also a special holiday marking the end of Ramadan, called Eid al-Fitr.

What's Eid al-Fitr?
The name Eid al-Fitr means "feast of the fast-breaking". It takes place on the first day of the month that follows Ramadan. There is a special salat (prayer) which the whole community should come together for. As well, those who can afford to do it should provide a small amount of food for the needy so that everybody can celebrate. The value of this gift is about $15 today. Most communities have a variety of festive celebrations and meals to mark the day.

Information: Al-Muhajabah

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Special Ramadan Series

Dear Reader, Assalaamu’alaikum.

Ramadan Mubarak. We wish you a blessed and productive Ramadan! Make no mistake about it - keeping the fast and increasing our acts of worship during this blessed month is not an easy task. The physical demands of balancing work or school with fasting all day, feeling fatigued and less effective than you normally are, waking up for Suhoor, praying Teraweeh and Tahajjud prayers, dealing with sleep deficits.

But the last thing we would want is to let Ramadan pass us by without doing all that we aim and desire to. Do not allow yourself to feel guilty or regretful when Ramadan passes.

The Ramadan Series will send you emails with practical tips on how to gain and maintain the physical and spiritual energy necessary to embark on increased religious oligations so that you will reap the benefits from this blessed month. This includes special Ramadan duas to say during the month. Do sign-up today!

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6 Comments:

Anonymous extension divison said...

MAY ALLAH BE PEACE UPON YOU..
but the AYAT fom VERSE@ is ACTUALLY 185,sorry for interrupt.


**The month of Ramadan in which was revealed the Qur'an, a guidance for mankind, and clear proofs of the guidance, and the Criterion (of right and wrong). And whosoever of you is present, let him fast the month, and whosoever of you is sick or on a journey, (let him fast the same) number of other days. Allah desireth for you ease; He desireth not hardship for you; and (He desireth) that ye should complete the period, and that ye should magnify Allah for having guided you, and that peradventure ye may be thankful.

(185)سُوۡرَةُ البَقَرَة

August 13, 2009 at 1:26 AM  
Blogger Ramadan Blog said...

Assalamualaikum.

The reference in which taqwa is discussed stems from the following Quarnic verses beginning with 2:183-2:185.

Thank you for your comments.

2.183: O you who believe! fasting is prescribed for you, as it was prescribed for those before you, so that you may guard (against evil).

2.184: For a certain number of days; but whoever among you is sick or on a journey, then (he shall fast) a (like) number of other days; and those who are not able to do it may effect a redemption by feeding a poor man; so whoever does good spontaneously it is better for him; and that you fast is better for you if you know.

2.185: The month of Ramazan is that in which the Quran was revealed, a guidance to men and clear proofs of the guidance and the distinction; therefore whoever of you is present in the month, he shall fast therein, and whoever is sick or upon a journey, then (he shall fast) a (like) number of other days; Allah desires ease for you, and He does not desire for you difficulty, and (He desires) that you should complete the number and that you should exalt the greatness of Allah for His having guided you and that you may give thanks.

August 16, 2009 at 12:45 AM  
Blogger thelogicgirl said...

Thank you for your contributions, and be blessed by a Allah (SBWAT).

Kullu Aamin Wa Intum Bekhayr!

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August 22, 2009 at 2:15 AM  
Blogger rarehero said...

Assalamualaikum.

What is the specific verse regarding the fast and breastfeeding or pregnancy?

I serve several Muslim clients that are breastfeeding or are pregnant and am concerned with some of them for fasting during this period.

Thank.

September 1, 2009 at 12:09 PM  
Blogger Ramadan Blog said...

There is no requirement that makes it obligatory for Muslim pregnant or breastfeeding women to fast during Ramadan. That is dependent on the condition of their health.

Please refer to the reading below:

"Pregnant and breastfeeding women have special permission not to fast during Ramadan if they feel that they or their babies will be harmed by it, but they are not prohibited from fasting if they feel they can handle it. This is something best discussed with a doctor and depends on each woman's unique circumstances. However, it is very important that pregnant and breastfeeding women take care to eat properly during non-fasting hours if they choose to fast. It is also important that women do not feel any shame or guilt in breaking the fast if they feel they must; no one has the right to put pressure on the pregnant or breastfeeding woman to exceed her body's limits. In fact this allowance not to fast should be considered a mercy from Allah and not a punishment.

Likewise, women should not fast just because they do not want to have to make their fasts up later: health should be the prime consideration in deciding whether or not to fast. Take the fast one day at a time: it is not a competition with others but an act of worship for the sake of Allah Most High.

Of course women who are ill or must take medications during the day need to consult their doctors in order to see if it will be possible for them to fast and to change the schedule of their medications. Discuss the issue with a sheikh if you are not sure about your situation.

Whether a woman misses days of fasting due to menstruation, childbirth, pregnancy, breastfeeding or illness, these missed days should be made up before the next Ramadan comes. Insha’Allah. Depending on her circumstances and on different schools of thought, making up the fast may be as simple as fasting one day for each day missed during Ramadan, or it may require that she feeds one poor person each day either in addition to, or in place of, fasting herself. Women should consult reliable books or scholars to understand their obligations in this regard. Fiqh us-Sunnah by As-Sayyid Sabiq is an excellent source of reliable information on how to make up missed days of fasting."

September 4, 2009 at 11:41 AM  
Anonymous jagath said...

nice post

September 7, 2009 at 12:42 AM  

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